WARF: P140381US01

  • Available Under Copyright

Measuring Lignin in Corn Stalks


Edgar Spalding, Sven Heckwolf

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing software to select low-lignin corn varieties for silage and biofuel feedstock.
OVERVIEWThe lignin in corn stalks makes it difficult to process for biomass and harder for animals to digest. Levels are especially high in the tough outer ‘rind’ and vascular bundles of the stem.

For this reason growers are looking to develop new corn varieties low in lignin. Field testing modified crops is very costly and time consuming, so it would be beneficial to gather phenotypic data early in the growth process to improve the odds of success.
THE INVENTIONUW–Madison researchers have developed an automated method to scan and analyze corn stalks. The algorithm extracts information about rind thickness, vascular bundles, density and size. The new method uses a flatbed scanner to image samples. The images are acquired as RGB color at a resolution of 800 dpi. Thresholding techniques are used to assess the outer ring boundaries and vasculature.
  • Phenotype monitoring
  • Selecting low-lignin corn varieties ideal for biomass processing and animal silage
  • First tool of its kind
  • High throughput
  • Cuts the costs and risks associated with field trials
STAGE OF DEVELOPMENTA campus lab is using the system to analyze new corn varieties.
For More Information About the Inventors
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at or 608-960-9845.
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Since its founding in 1925 as the patenting and licensing organization for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, WARF has been working with business and industry to transform university research into products that benefit society. WARF intellectual property managers and licensing staff members are leaders in the field of university-based technology transfer. They are familiar with the intricacies of patenting, have worked with researchers in relevant disciplines, understand industries and markets, and have negotiated innovative licensing strategies to meet the individual needs of business clients.